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Lodi teen gets 'Switched!' for TV show

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Posted: Monday, May 24, 2004 10:00 pm

A Lodian got to live another life recently - and a Coloradan got to live a Lodi life.

Nick Mackey, 18, traveled to Colorado to live for four days with a new family in a life much different from his own - with the cameras rolling.

He and his counterpart, Liza Mitchell, 18, of Longmont, Colo., switched homes and took part in each other's normal daily lives.

For Mackey, this included going to classes, participating in aerial fabrics and Scottish dancing, and walking a donkey. Mitchell, who traveled to Lodi, took part in extreme sports.

The two teenagers did this as part of "Switched!" the ABC Family (a cable family channel) reality show that takes different teens and has them live in ways they might not be used to. The teens don't know where they're going until the day they leave. The show is for 16 to 20 year olds, and they may apply on the Web site, www.abcfamily.go.com.

Mackey, who graduated from home school, worked at the Lodi skate park. ABC Family representatives called the skate park, looking for BMX bikers and skateboarders. He applied to participate and was excited to hear he made it.

He arrived in Colorado and met Mitchell's parents at the airport. They brought him to their home and showed him around.

"I lived her life," he said.

He went to her aerial fabrics class. Aerial fabrics is the art of doing acrobatics and dancing with pieces of fabric hung from the ceiling. He also did Scottish dancing.

"It was hard to pick up, but I got it down," he said.

Nick Mackey

He also went to Mitchell's private school, which he said was really nice. He did a welding class there. Everyone at the school knew he was taking Mitchell's place. On Saturday, he walked the Mitchells' pet donkey. That was his only chore to do.

"Liza's parents were really nice people. They were really smart, too," he said.

While Mackey was in Colorado, he enjoyed the scenery and got to visit a couple of other towns.

"I just really liked everything about Colorado," he said, adding that he would like to go back and visit.

"Basically, the whole experience taught me to try new things in life," he said.

An ABC Family representative contacted Mitchell's aerial fabrics teacher to see if any teens were interested in the show.

"It would be a really fun experience … to travel somewhere for four days and live someone else's life," Mitchell said.

Mitchell traveled to Lodi, which she found was not too different from towns she'd seen.

"The weather was gorgeous, and I had a fun time," she said. "The people were nice, too."

Mitchell arrived at Mackey's apartment, which had a note on the door that said she could go inside. Once inside, 10 of Mackey's friends and his brother Nathan were there to welcome her.

While in Lodi, she did bodywork on a truck - one of Mackey's hobbies - and learned how to sand it down and glue parts on it. She also learned how to do BMX biking in the skate park. Mitchell admits she was scared at first, but she enjoyed it, and Mackey's friends tried to teach her tricks. Then she got a cell phone text message about a challenge, which was a drag race at a track in Sacramento. She did a ride-along at first, then drove the car with her instructor. Then, she was on her own to drive in a drag race, which she won.

"It was quite a rush … we were flying down the track," she said. "It was not as difficult as I thought."

Liza Mitchell

Mackey also went to Lodi Lake where she did wakeboarding. Though wakeboarding is not allowed at Lodi Lake, an exception was made for the show. She had a hard time with it at first, but once she got the hang of it, she did fine.

Mitchell traveled home to Colorado where she met Mackey for the first time. Her family had a barbecue for them. They talked about their experiences, and Mitchell said she was impressed that Mackey did the Scottish dancing and the aerial fabrics because he seemed like a macho guy.

Mitchell said she would love to go back to Lodi and that she made a lot of good friends.

"I will have to do more extreme sports," she said.

Mitchell said she has responsibilities at home with school, activities and preparing to go to college in August.

As for her take on her trip: "It was like a vacation - an escape from reality."

New episodes of "Switched!" will begin in June. Currently, no date is set for the Lodi-Colorado show to air.

Contact Features Editor Jennifer Snyder at jennifers@lodinews.com.

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